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End The Stigma

Mental Health For Business Owners

Here we are in 2021. We survived one of the craziest, and most stressful years in recent history. While we are almost through the month of January, it seems like a good time to bring up the important topic of mental health for business owners.

For anyone that follows this business on instagram, you may recall my post about my mental health story. If not, it was a post from December 14th if you want to check it out.

It’s important for me to share my mental health struggles. I have dealt with severe anxiety, depression, and ADHD my whole life. I didn’t start really addressing those issues until 2015, and it wasn’t until 2020 when I had decided that I will no longer be a victim to these issues. I want to rise above, and that is what I strive to do.

In saying all of that, I really wanted to share something about mental health for business owners. Look, I’m not a doctor or therapist, and I only just started this business in 2020. However, I can share my observations, as well as the tools I use to help myself.

Being a small business owner is stressful…

That is just stating the obvious, but it’s something we need to remind ourselves. It’s not an easy job. If it were, everyone would start their own business and achieve some level of success. That’s clearly not the case, because it’s NOT easy.

So it’s important to visualize our why of the business. Why did we start this business? What was our personal goal for it? What led you to the decision to start the business? I personally decided to write that down, and I keep it in my 2021 planner. If I need a quick reminder in a stressful situation, I try to bring myself to that.

Your days may be busy, but you need a break…

Look, I know this is easier said than done, but it’s still incredibly important. Exhaustion can increase anxiety, depression, memory loss, and more. Those things can all lead to burnout, and that can not only damage your business, but you as well. You may be a business owner, but you probably also have a family or friends, and are an important part of their lives. As difficult as this is to remember, put yourself first! If you are in a situation that is wearing you down, step back in whatever capacity you can.

How do I cope with depression, anxiety, and ADHD as a business owner?

First, before anything else, I make sure to speak with a therapist. I have an appointment once a month, and I will never miss it for anything. Even if I had a “big business opportunity” but it meant I had to cancel some appointments, I would turn down that opportunity. I value myself more than that, and I know I need it.

I am also not ashamed to admit I take medication to help me with this stuff too. There is still a huge stigma around taking medication, but I’m here to throw that out the window. If someone wants to judge me for that, it’s fine. They don’t walk in my shoes, so what their opinion is matters very little to me.

With all of that, the most important thing is putting in the work for myself. Otherwise, none of that other stuff matters.

I said “no” to hustle culture

The first rule I have for myself is to not become one of those “I gotta hustle 24/7 on I’m a failure” business owners. There are so many so-called “self help gurus” out there, and they seem to give the impression that you can’t have their glamorous life if you take breaks.

That is garbage.

I take breaks! You should too!

Now, this doesn’t mean I am lazy. What it does mean is I set a working schedule for myself, and I even schedule when to stop working. I really try to stick with that, and I make sure my clients are aware of this as well. For now, this has been good for me. I have figured out a work life balance, and I adjust along the way as needed.

Other things that help me personally as a business owner

Here are a few things:

  1. I have made sure to make my physical health a priority. I try to exercise daily. I often use the early morning hours before my “office hours” begin. It really helps me clear my mind and give me a mental boost for the day.
  1. I love meditation. I meditate daily. It’s usually for only 5 minutes in the morning. I also will take brief moments throughout the day to do some quick breathing exercises. This helps if I’m getting stressed or feeling overwhelmed. I step away from my computer and go outside for a moment to breathe. This helps so much.
  1. As I previously mentioned, I take breaks! In fact, I try to take a 10 minute break every hour. That may seem excessive, but the days I take more breaks are also the days where my productivity is up. Those are also the days where my stress levels are down.
  1. I follow a schedule. I start out each week in my planner with my weekly personal goals and business goals. I then try to break those down into steps for each day that week. It’s best to not always focus on the big picture, but each little task. Accomplishing those individually gives me a great sense of pride, instead of  feeling overwhelmed on what work I have left.
  1. I also have a daily checklist. This is separate from my planner. I will break down my tasks even more on this checklist. I will also write down any random ideas. There are some nights I will be watching tv or reading, and I’ll get an idea for a website or the business, and I’ll write it down on the checklist for the next day. That way I don’t have to worry about forgetting the idea, but also know that I have a designated time to think about it.
  1. I make time for non-work related things I enjoy. Look, I love what I do for my job. It’s my passion, but I do have hobbies outside of this. Outside of working out, I also love to play bass and guitar, write music, play video games, read comics, etc. Having time for those things helps me unwind. It’s important to still have your hobbies. Don’t make your job your only hobby, even if you do have to ignore them for a period of time…go back to them!

The final thing I have to do is take ownership of my problems and my life

My mental illness has been a hindrance for me to really move forward as an adult. It’s tough, and this stuff really beats me down sometimes. But there is no one I can blame for this. It’s up to me to figure out how to overcome these obstacles and rise above. This is easier said than done, but that’s why my list above is important. I have to step back from my problems, and look at how to rise above. There are always different solutions, but it is up to me to work through those.

Starting a business can feel like you are on your own island. It can get lonely, but I have met so many wonderful business owners over the past few months that have helped along the way. I value those connections. They help keep me going. 

All that being said, I am always here to listen. If you are a small business owner, or even just someone who is trying to grow an online presence as a blogger, or trying to turn your hobby into a money making side hustle, I am here if you need someone to talk to. I won’t turn it into a sales pitch. That’s not the type of person I am. I just know the value of having someone to vent to.

Let me wrap things up with this…

If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. There is no shame in asking for help, or even as a business owner, there is no shame in taking a step back to put yourself first. That’s not failure, and we can work together to end that stigma.

Take care of yourselves. You are worth it!

  • – Matt

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